Vernon Lee's 'studies of the Eighteenth Century in Italy' I have not read; but if they are half as interesting as this 'Life,' I have something to look forward to. The pictures of even a portion of society in Florence drawn in this 'Life' of the Countess of Albany set one wondering how a hundred years can have brought about such changes. Vernon Lee's later works, mostly about Italy, 'Limbo and Other Essays' and 'Genius Loci,' there seems no need for me to praise; they have been so recently in the reading public's mind, and so much appreciated.

It seems to me very clearing to the mind to read French or German criticisms at the same time as English, especially with regard to Italy, as at all times the French, of whom I know most, take such an absolutely different point of view. 'L'ltalie d'Hier,' by the brothers De Goncourt, written in the winter of 1855-56, is entirely devoid of what we should call 'the feeling for Italy.' To read this description of Italy is very like taking up a book illustrating the contents of the first Exhibition of 1851, when all sense of the beautiful seemed absolutely lost. Georges Sand, in her youthful bitterness, exclaimed in the 'Thirties that Italy was 'Peintures aux plafonds, ordure sous les pieds'; but that criticism is again of a totally different kind. Edmond de Goncourt looks at a picture and says: 'La Vierge chez ce peintre, c'est la Vierge du Vinci, mais avec une expression courtisanesque.' The drawings by one of the brothers in this book are rather clever, and in describing a ball at the Pitti in the Grand Duke's time he gives an absurd caricature of our English Minister of the day, Lord Normanby, which no one who remembers him can read now without a smile. The book is well worth looking at as typical of French criticism of that day, and anybody who cares to enjoy a strong literary contrast has only to take up afterwards Paul Bourget's 'sensations d'ltalie' (published in 1891, and dedicated to Robert Lord Lytton by his affectionate friend and admirer) and his most daintily illustrated little gem called 'Un Saint,' published in 1894. Here the forty years have indeed altered sentiment, feeling, aspiration, and description. Both are French; I prefer the Bourget.

The famous 'Voyage en Italie' by H. Taine (1866) is literature of a much more serious kind. It is descriptive rather than critical in the modern sense, and the chapter 'La Peinture Florentine' should be read by anyone seriously interested in the Florence galleries. It contains an enlightened sentence on the famous Venus de' Medici, forcing one to remember - what so many forget - that the arms were a restoration by Bernini, and are very likely the cause of much that fails to please in this statue.

What he says of the galleries are only slight sketches, but these are by the hand of a master. The end of the second volume is Venice; the first volume is Borne.

'The Makers of Florence,' by Mrs. Oliphant, is a most helpful book and one of her best. It should be read, I think, before the more detailed 'Life and Times of Savonarola' by Professor Pasquale Villari, as the mind then will be in a more receptive condition for absorbing the greater detail of the larger book. It is almost inconceivable that Savonarola's skull formation should have been as low as it is represented in the portrait reproduced in this book of Mrs. Oliphant's, with the head covered with his Dominican cowl.

'The Life and Times of Savonarola' by Villari, translated as it is into English by his wife, has been lately republished in a cheap edition by Fisher Unwin.

Signdra Villari has also written a pretty little book of her own, called 'On Tuscan Hills and Venetian Waters.'

I have long had that amusing classic, the 'Memoirs of Benvenuto Cellini' by himself, translated by Thomas Roscoe (1823), on the title-page of which is a saying of Horace Walpole's: 'Cellini was one of the most extraordinary men of an extraordinary age. His Life, written by himself, is more amusing than any novel I know.' This book was again translated into English by John Addington Symonds, and published in 1888. It is pleasanter reading than Roscoe's, but the engraved portrait in the old book is infinitely better than in the new.

I found Symonds's 'Life of Michael Angelo' a book of rare interest. Symonds is often criticised for inaccuracy of detail. The same accusation is always brought against Froude; but both writers have a power of popularising information which, joined to their gift for vivid description, make one live in the past, in spite of the atmosphere of modern thought through which they present it.

Symonds's 'Italian Sketches,' which are so conveniently published in the Tauchnitz edition, speak of many things in a charming way, but do not actually touch on Florence itself.

Amongst the books I have been reading none seem to me more remarkable or stamped with a stronger or more interesting individuality than Walter Pater's. His 'Renaissance,' which he calls 'studies in Art and Poetry,' and 'Marius the Epicurean,' with its vivid word-painting and its pictures of old Italy, so unchanged even to-day, are books which must be immensely admired by those who read them, or not liked at all. They are certainly not light reading, and more fitted for the study than the railway carriage; but they are books which I believe will live in English literature when many of the productions of this period will have passed into the unknown. They are full of study, thought, and knowledge, and it is not only a knack of beautiful writing which is their chief attraction and merit.

Many years ago two old ladies, Susan and Joanna Horner, lived in Florence and wrote one of the first and the most satisfactory of the detailed guide-books I have ever seen, called 'Walks in Florence.' An interesting new